Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Is 1 1/16 miles long enough for Finnegans Wake?

I’ve always been a fan of turf racing. Ever since the days of Majestic Light, Exceller, and Johnny D. doing battle in all the big grass races of 1977, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the horses that can take their game to the turf in a big way. Because of this, I always enjoy finding the future turf star. Often they are the horse that really turns thing on as an older horse, because American breeders are not clamoring to rush them off to the breeding shed. The longevity factor also comes into play in the relative safeness that can be found on the grass versus running on traditional dirt. Simply put, find a favorite of yours on the grass early in their careers, and it very well might be a horse you can enjoy watching run for years. Gio Ponti quickly comes to mind as an example of this. This year, I’ve enjoyed watching a number of good young turf horses demonstrate their talents. On the distaff side, Lady of Shamrock has been a stalwart, while the males have been highlighted by the multiple stakes winners, Silver Max and Summer Front.


One horse that has quietly emerged as a potential turf star, and has actually already defeated both Silver Max and Summer Front, is the Dale Romans’ three-year-old Finnegans Wake. That victory over the previous top two sophomore turfers in America, came when he finished a fast closing second in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park. He could not defeat the top French runner, Bayrir, that day, but it was a big effort that seems to have gone somewhat unnoticed. It was also just one of seven turf races for the son of Powerscourt, that without exception have been solid. Solid, but as of yet, have not produced a stakes victory to show for his trouble. That might all change tonight at Churchill Downs in the Grade 3 Commonwealth Turf.


Coming off a too-tough try in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at a mile-and-a-half, in which he finished a well beaten fourth in a race that featured older stars, Point of Entry and Little Mike, Finnegans Wake will be getting a big class relief in tonight’s race. The Commonwealth Turf has attracted a deep field with many horses capable of winning, but in my mind, none of the others have the potential to do really big things in the future as much as the Donegal owned runner, and at 8-1 on the morning line, he may offer exciting value.  


The Secretariat, two races back, showed that he is still getting better, and is on a par with the best three-year-old turf horses in the nation. In the Turf Classic, his connections gave him a huge vote of confidence by even trying him against those tigers. The big negative in tonight’s race is that at 8 ½ furlongs, he is making a big cut back in distance. It might be a situation where he does his best running a little too late, but if the pace is fast, I still like his chances. And whether he wins tonight or not, I really like him in the future. Look for him to be a force in distance turf races next year, and hopefully beyond. 





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Older Comments about Is 1 1/16 miles long enough for Finnegans Wake?...

You mentioned one of my all time turf favorites, Majestic Light!
I can't wait until post time since I have to travel to "vote".
In Europe Italian tracks are never listed faster than good as Newmarket.
Okay, did you look over the entries for this race, tv? If so, thoughts?
Unless one is in Calif, FLA or in mid summer someplace. turf always has some moisture in it.
I'd like to see Two Months Rent run well on this drier turf. Good ML odds on him. Two Months Rent, Film Shot, Excaper, Skyring

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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